since mlx2005 we've had some fun korean dancers in town to play with. three lovely leads, one shy follow and lots of smiles.
while i barely got to know them over mlx i've since had the pleasure of many dances, laughs and car trips, which has given me more of an opportunity to get know them and find out a little bit about the korean swing scene - in particular the city of Seoul.
considering i had no idea that there was even swing in korea, i'm thoroughly surprised to discover how long it's been around for (about 6 years or so - sortof simular to melb) and how big it is (possibly 800 dancers).
while i've always considered australia to be generally isolated from the wider, global swing scene i think that korea may also be more disadvantaged. they have had far less visiting teachers and are also dealing with a language barrier. it seems that they've only had kevin and carla, solomon douglas and a todd-someone with influential visits - while Oz has had countless visits from many different parts of the world including exchanges, camps and none other than the harlem hot shots.
and even when they do have teachers come out to teach workshops all of the teaching is done via a translator. as someone whom likes to talk about dance theory (to a certain extent) i found this quite exceptional. and when i asked them if they thought it was difficult they only looked at me puzzled - perhaps none of them learn dancing through language but are all much more intuitive learners (like visual, rhythmical etc). possibly it would mean that certain learning personalities would be the only lindyhoppers to survive.
they asked me which dancers i liked and we discussed some different famous dancers from around the globe and it appears that they spend as much time as me searching the internet (being IT nerds would also help) for swing clips to learn from. just like us.
i spotted a digital camera and it also seems that they film themselves dancing and learn from that.
i'm not sure exactly how much influence kevin and carla have had on the scene or if they were already swaying that way but i can definately feel/see/notice certain traits that are simular to kevin&carla students. ...for example the high arm on layouts is something that was very popular in melbourne a few years back, right after K&C were around.
they also have one main studio that they own and can go dancing at every nite and practice at. what a major asset.
there are two main troupes in their town - both ameteur, plus a surplus of smaller groups that get together for various stuff. only one of the three leads that i was chatting to was in a troupe. we got to see some clips taken of the routines performed recently - which were strikingly modern jazz reminiscent. alot of "wiggly hop" type stuff.
someone also suggested that the korean economy is a major disadvantage on the global scale, which would limit the number of visitors they could fly in- or the amount they could travel elsewhere.
i was shocked when they said they had never heard of harrang. what the?
i also asked what were the major differences between melbourne and home in terms of dance styles. it was commented that australian beginners are majorly different than back home. in their general attitude and expressiveness (this is applied to both leads and follows) they are generally quite shy and do not step outside their comfort zone anywhere nearly as much as many of the australian dancers they had seen.
another interesting thing discussed was connection. apparantly right from day one in a beginners class the students are told that tension is the most important thing. that "there will always be tension, whether it be push or pull." that's also really interesting. and explains the feeling that i get when i dance with them. i discussed the locality differences in australia that they may have experienced over mlx (for example the perthies are much more free and relaxed compared to other dancers around Oz.)
i got one of them to show me some of the moves he had lead on me during a dance we had just had and got someone to film it. really complicated moves that require quite alot of technique and remind me very much of an 'oldschool' connection but they've made it work.
can i mention balboa? oh my fricken god!!! one of them is quite nice to do bal with but there is another that has the most amazing wieght change that there is no way in hell that any (beginner even) could miss the fast foot work. i love it, i love it! now how do i work on getting weight changes like that? how?
there is still alot of body rolls etc but are somehow lead.
i wondered about the general korean personality and how much that would effect the overall swing scene of Seoul. would there be that typical sense of pride that i get from many asian cultures? would they have the work ethics of those crazy swedes?
who knows but they sure are fun to hang out with and give my visual communication skills quite a workout - it's like i'm speaking a whole other language and it does get exhausting after some time.
they are currently looking forward to lismore dance camp which i hope they enjoy, but for the moment matt, lotte and i are working on convincing them that harrang is the place to go. and i'm considering that korea might be somewhere to stop over on my way to europe.